Flight Department Aviation Articles

Commercial Add-On: Transitioning From Fixed-Wing to Rotary Ratings

One of the most common commercial rotary transitions is helicopter pilots wanting a fixed-wing add-on. This is seen pretty often with military helicopter pilots such as former Apache or Blackhawk crews. 

But, does anyone ever get an add-on from previous fixed-wing to rotary? It's not common but it's out there. Some do it for fun and some do it to add to their resume and expand their job opportunities. 

A good resource that can help with this type of transition is Veracity Aviation. I went here about a month ago at the Pearland, TX location to talk with some of the instructors, and here's a briefing of what I got:

The general requirements for a commercial add-on through a 141 program would be to 

  • Already hold a fixed wing commercial pilot certificate
  • Current FAA Medical Certificate
  • Helicopter Instrument Rating not required
  • No FAA Written Exam
  • Pass an FAA Oral and Practical Flight Test
  • 30 dual flight hours
  • 5 solo flight hours
  • 10 hours instrument hours

If you're looking to do a CFI add-on as a way to build rotary hours then you would be required to 

  • Hold a Commercial Pilot Helicopter Certificate
  • Must Read, Write, Understand, and Speak English
  • Hold a Current FAA Medical Certificate
  • Pass an FAA Oral and Practical Flight Test
  • Fixed wing CFI license
  • Complete 25 hours of flight time

as with any CFI rating as well, you must be 18 years old.

However, this posted above is for a part 141 program. Here's what the regs require for a part 61 program:

at least 150 hours of flight time as a pilot that consists of at least: 100 hours in powered aircraft, of which 50 hours must be in helicopters.

  • 100 hours of PIC, which includes at least - 35 hours in helicopters, 10 hours in cross-country flight in helicopters.
  • 20 hours of training on the areas of operation listed in 61.127 (b)(3) that includes at least -
  • 5 hours of helicopter hood time/instrument maneuvers
  • One 2-hour cross country flight in a helicopter in daytime conditions that consists of a total straight-line distance of more than 50 nautical miles from the original point of departure
  • One 2-hour cross country flight in a helicopter in nighttime conditions that consists of a total straight-line distance of more than 50 nautical miles from the original point of departure; and
  • 3 hours in a helicopter with a CFI in preparation for the check ride within the preceding 2 calendar months from the month of the test.
  • Ten hours of solo flight time in a helicopter or 10 hours of flight time performing the duties of PIC in a helicopter with an authorized CFI on board
  • 1 cross-country flight with landings at a minimum of three points, with one segment consisting of a straight-line distance of at least 50 nautical miles from the original point of departure; and 5 hours in night VFR conditions with 10 takeoffs and 10 landings (with each landing involving a flight in the traffic pattern).

All of these requirements can be found in the FAR AIM under 61.129 helicopter rating. A 141 program can cut down testing requirements however to make the add-on even easier.

Who knows, the add-on may lead you to new career opportunities flying something like an Airbus H130. I'd say it's worth your time to get through those requirements and learn to fly a new aircraft. Join the "dark side" and comment below how it goes!

How to Pay for Flight Training

It's no doubt, flight training is expensive and a big challenge to get through. 

As a CFI, the biggest complaints I get from students are having to pay for lessons. How to save money on them, how to get through training faster etc. I'm here to say paying for flight training is not impossible, but is in fact very possible. I started flight training as soon as I turned 19 and got through it in 2.5 years while being a poor college student. Here's how:

1) Scholarships

Over $15,000 dollars of my flight training was paid for by scholarships. Rule number one: don't only apply for all the big scholarships that offer a lot of money. Those have the most competition! The ones that are around $1,000 have less applicants, and if you apply for multiple ones of those you're likely to get some of them.

When applying for scholarships, there's so many tips that I could give from being a successful applicant and now scholarship curator. Take your time on your application, but get it in as soon as possible. And make sure everything that was asked for is there! You may be a great applicant but if you forget even one thing you're disqualified. Do email the scholarship committee/organization with any questions you have and ask what they look for in picking recipients because they're likely glad to help, DON'T email or contact saying only how much you need the money. Financial need is not the only thing that creates a worthy recipient. 

2) Be Smart With Your Money

THIS. This is a good tip for flight training and LIFE. Don't be the student that goes out every weekend, buys a BRAND NEW car, walks in with a Bose headset....(the list goes on) and then complain about not being able to pay for lessons. Try to work it to where almost all of your money is put towards training. It's okay to be the person eating lunch from home, only getting water to drink at restaurants, using coupons at the grocery store and so on. If it helps you reach your dreams you do what you need to do. 

If you need to buy a headset, buy like a DC brand from Sporty's Pilot Shop or even something used on Amazon or Ebay. There is a ton of options where you can find something quality less than $300 that will last without breaking. As far as a logbook if you don't even want to spend money on a paper one then use an online one that meets FAA requirements. Even the logbook on Globalair.com will get the job done!

If you can help it, as in if a school does not require you to buy a certain kit, get your study materials online for free. Remember the Airplane Flying Handbook and Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge are free for PDF download from the FAA, just Google it. 

3) Study at Home

Don't rely on your instructor to teach you everything on ground lessons or in flight. Ask them to help guide you to what to study, but read it all at home and make it to where lessons with them are just building on what you don't understand. Especially steps for maneuvers as well. This can literally save you THOUSANDS of dollars. 

When I say to study maneuvers, do what's called chair flying. Let an instructor demonstrate a maneuver for you the first time, then write down the steps during your debrief with them, and go home and imagine sitting in the cockpit and practice flying those steps. Manuevers like power off stalls, slow flight, and approach checklists that have a lot of steps are much better mastered this way. This all pays off on your check ride too, you'll have it down better because you established a better foundation for your skills. 

4) Fly Often

Don't take a break from flying to pay for each lesson if you can help it. Save up as much as you can and THEN go into training. If you fly 2 times a month versus two times a week, it costs more in the long run because you have to redo each lesson. You're staying at the same spot rather than truly moving forward. 

There's so many tips I could give on how to save money and pay for flight training, but these are the biggest ones. Be smart and make wise decisions, you work hard for your money so do your best to put it to good use. It doesn't matter if you come from a poor family, if no one around you is a pilot to give you advice, or even if it takes you a little longer than other students around you to learn. If you're really dedicated and cut out to learn to fly, there will be a way. Pave it for yourself. 

Until next time, happy landings!

Flying Glass Cockpit vs The Six Pack

This is probably one of the most popular topics in aviation that I hear about and have to teach about ALL of the time. 

Six pack is the old school way, aka the steam gauges that bring you back and make you feel like you're learning to fly in the '50s. Or at least this is one of the jokes I hear from fellow aviators and students. 

But it's true! This is the "old school way" if that's what you want to call it. But, don't discount it. The steam gauges create really good flying skills that can carry into the rest of your career and set a good foundation.

On the other hand, the glass cockpit is the newer style of things and we have to learn to adapt. 

This G1000 features Avidyne Avionics from a Cirrus SR20 and below the screens a Garmin 430. On the left side is a PFD (primary flight display), which makes sense because it shows your primary flight instruments. Everything from the six pack (which we'll come back to) is now featured on this screen, including your rudder coordination which is the black and white triangle at the top. Keep the white part of the triangle centered with the black (keep the snow on top of the mountain) and you're coordinated!

All of this is powered by a separate computer. You still have a pitot tube and static ports, and this air is sent in lines to flight management systems to display the information. The advantage of this is the controls have fewer mechanical components to break down and avoid false readings. One major advantage of a glass cockpit is that the automation systems are more accurate and the information is more precise.

Some of the features look different, but if you can read the older style gauges, you can read this. Some added tools include the heading and altitude bugs that you can't always set on the six pack as a reminder of when to level off. Now if you have advanced avionics like this and added autopilot, consider your plane a technically advanced aircraft! This is a plus of having a glass cockpit. 

However, there is one con I find of training with this. When learning to read these, if you go straight into the digitalized cockpit without doing any training in a traditional style, then your instrument scan is negatively affected.

As you can see, all of the readings are displayed on one screen and it can be easy to monitor all the readings at once. 

With these instruments, now they're all separate from each other. You have to move your eyes across all of them at a good pace and thus create a good instrument scan while flying the plane at the same time. This creates a solid foundation for good flying skills, especially when you have to take those skills into flying IFR without autopilot. 

As mentioned earlier, all of these instruments have mechanical linkages behind them which can break and render the entire instrument unusable with little to no sign beforehand. This is the con of flying the steam gauges, and you usually have to replace the entire instrument to fix it. They also can be slightly inaccurate when incorporating some principles like gyroscopic procession with your gyro-powered instruments. The altimeter, even when set to the right altimeter setting, can read inaccurate and within time has to be fixed too. 

Both traditional flying and digitalized flying have their own benefits and are each respected throughout the aviation community, it's all about what you fly best. Find planes with the best cockpit for you on Globalair.com

Stay tuned for more articles and happy landings!

6 Ways the Garmin Autoland Determines the Most Suitable Airport

Photo courtesy of Elliot Jets

The Garmin G3000 Autoland System (HomeSafe) is the first of its kind to receive certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). HomeSafe selects an airport to autonomously land at in an emergency. The system ensures stable flight while navigating, descending, and landing at the most suitable airport. At a starting price of $85,000 USD, this system can be installed in the 2020 Daher TBM 940, Piper M600 MLS, and Cirrus Vision Jet.  Several 2019 models can be retrofitted with the system. Garmin's intentions are to expand the autoland system into other airplanes that have a G3000, such as the Honda HA-420, Embraer Phenom 100 and 300, Curtis Vision SF50, and the Cessna Citation CJ3+. The autoland system is only certified in the G3000. However, Garmin's goal is to expand autonomous flight into more modes of aviation, according to Garmin's Executive Vice President, Phil Straub. 

 

The autoland system is activated through a button in the cockpit. The system can automatically activate if it renders the pilot unable to fly. HomeSafe is designed to only be activated in an emergency, such as an incapacitated pilot. The system will then pick the most suitable airport to autonomously land at. The factors that determine which airport the airplane selects are listed below.

 

1. Airport is Within 200 NM

HomeSafe system will pick an airport in a 200 NM radius from where the the autoland system was enabled.

 

2. Fuel Reserves

HomeSafe will determine if the airplane has the range to reach a specific airport. A plane may not have the fuel reserve to reach an airport that is within the 200 NM radius, thus fuel range is used to consider a closer airport.

 

3. GPS Approach

Contrary to CAT III ILS approaches, HomeSafe is the first certified system that can autoland on a GPS approach. The airport chosen by the system must be equipped with a suitable GPS approach.

 

4. Weather

The G3000 will select an airport based on the weather and winds. The GPS will avoid adverse weather once the emergency autloand system is enacted.

 

5. Runway Length

The runway used for the approach must be at least 4,500 feet long for most airplanes. However, the exact runway length is dependent upon the aircraft being used. For example, the Cirrus VisionJet requires a runway of 5,836 feet or loner.

 

6. Terrain Considerations

When choosing an airport to land at, the GPS will consider the terrain of a given airport and its surrounding area.

 

There are approximately 9,000 airports where HomeSafe can land autonomously at. In an emergency, the system picks the most suitable airport based on distance, fuel range, instrument approaches, weather, runway length, and terrain. Only time will tell if more airplanes will be equipped with this technology and if more airports will accommodate to the requirements needed for HomeSafe landings.

The 5 Most Expensive Private Jets on the Market in 2020

While multiple modes of transportation are available in the United States, business aviation ranks among the most important for companies and the affluent alike. The demand for private jets stems not only from the comfortability provided by the aircraft but also from its ability to help reach a variety of markets. Seen as more of a business tool than simply an aircraft, private jets offer a space that can easily be utilized as an office, conference room, or even a bedroom dependent on the user's needs.

Private aviation also represents one of the most luxurious modes of transportation available. Those who can afford the cost of owning and operating a jet see it as more than just an expensive aircraft, they see it as a portrayal of their social status.

From athletes to movie stars, A-list celebrities desire an A-list aircraft to travel in. The cost of this class of aircraft can range from tens of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars. And no, that does not include the cost of operating the jet.

Of course, the amenities of aircraft held to such a high standard come with a hefty price tag. Here are five of the most expensive private jets on the market.

 

 

Gulfstream G650ER  - $71 million


Courtesy of Gulfstream Aerospace

 

 

The Gulfstream G650ER boasts a price tag of $71 million. With a range of more than 7,500 nm and a striking interior made from luxurious leathers, elegant wooden veneers, and handcrafted stonework, its no surprise that Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, would make the G650ER his private jet of choice.

Currently, the G650ER holds the record for the farthest fastest flight in business aviation history, allowing it to set new standards for comfort, functionality, and safety. It is one of the fastest civilian aircraft in the world at its highest speed of 607 miles per hour.

The spacious cabin is also designed to be the quietest in business aviation. Sixteen panoramic oval windows fill the cabin with natural light and stunning views of the world below.

Elon Musk is a tech giant with a net worth of $41.1 billion as of 2020. Musk lives in a world surrounded by advanced technology, and he expects his G650ER to be the same. On the inside, this private just is equipped with advanced fly-by-wire technology and streamlined displays of the PlaneView II flight deck to increase safety and reduce pilot workload. The cabin is even entirely customizable and can be controlled using a smartphone app.

 

Bombardier Global 7500 - $72 million


Courtesy of Bombardier

 

The Global 7500 is one of the world’s largest and longest-range business jets on the market. Known for its luxurious interior, the Global 7500 is easily worth its price tag of $72 million.

With an industry-leading 7,700 nm range, a top speed of Mach 0.925, and exceptional short-field performance, the 7500 is practically unrivaled. If the allure of the words “ultimate long-range private jet” don’t entice you, then maybe the full dining table, luxury window seating, and private bedroom will.

Niki Lauda, a Formula 1 world champion, was one of the first to receive the Global 7500. Though a loyal client of Bombardier for many years, Lauda particularly liked the Global 7500 due to its elegant design and abundance of natural light. This jet can be hard to find, with few on the market today.

Unlike any other business jet on the market, the Global 7500 features The Nuage seats, the first new seat architecture in business aviation in almost 30 years. Designed with the intent to bring the comfort of luxury home seating into the cabin, the seat offers three key features unavailable on any other seat in business aviation: deep recline, floating base, tilting headrest.

Bombardier Pũr Air is offered on the Global 7500 with an advanced HEPA filter that captures up to 99.99% of allergens, bacteria, and viruses while completely replacing the cabin air with fresh air in as little as 90 seconds. Available exclusively on Global aircraft, Bombardier Pũr Air delivers cleaner air with better humidity and quicker heating and cooling than 100% fresh air only systems.

Bombardier’s Global 7500 has become the first in business aviation to receive an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) from the International EPD System based in Sweden. The EPD allows for full environmental transparency about the Global 7500, such as CO2 emissions, noise, water consumption, and other environmental impact indicators. Bombardier believes this aircraft will help cut down on the environmental impact of aviation, and they’re not afraid to prove it.

 

Dassault Falcon 8X - $59 million


Courtesy of Dassault

 

The Dassault Falcon 8X is an amazingly fast aircraft, capable of flying at a speed of 0.90 Mach to a distance of 6,450 nm without refueling. Improved wing design and new powerplant make this business jet 35% more economical than any other ultra-long-haul aircraft on the market. The Falcon 8X has a suggested retail price of $59 million.

While the Falcon 8X has a lower cost than the other four aircraft on the list, there are many unique amenities on this private jet that make it one of the most expensive on the market. For instance, its unique three-engine scheme helps to shorten transoceanic routes. The 8X gets you where you are going faster.

Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, is no stranger to the world of private jets. In fact, he owns at least 3 private jets as of today. Gates just had to get his hands on the Falcon 7X, the predecessor to the 8X due to Dassault’s reputation for having the most advanced jets on the market. He’ll undoubtedly be looking for an upgrade to the 8X before long.

Offering the longest cabin in the Falcon family, the Falcon 8X will become your personal penthouse at an altitude of 41,000 ft. More than 30 stunning cabin layout options are available, each including seating areas, kitchens, crew compartments, and showers.

The latest technology is at your fingertips in the Falcon 8X with the ability to control its functionality from anywhere in the cabin through your Apple device. You can even call up a virtual moving map of any area around you by simply pointing your iPad in the desired direction.

 

Boeing Business Jet MAX 8 - $85 million


Courtesy of Boeing

 

The BBJ (Boeing Business Jet) MAX 8 is a state-of-the-art, $85 million airliner turned private jet. The interior is an astounding 1,025 square feet. That means space for you and 49 of your closest friends. The sky is the limit on the different configurations, including a master suite with a California King bed, a walk-in closet, and a master bath with a double-size shower and heated marble floors.

The BBJ MAX 8 has a range of 6,640nm and can cruise at an airspeed of 449 kn (832 km/h). Despite being larger and more capable than previous models of BBJ aircraft, the BBJ MAX has a 13% lower fuel burn and lower emissions, thanks to its CFM LEAP-1B engines and advanced winglets.

An interior cabin concept presented by Boeing for the BBJ MAX featured a ‘spaceship sleek’ design, including starlight detailing on the cabin ceiling. With the generous cabin space offered by this business jet, it allows you to create an office or home in the sky.

It's understandable why Steven Spielberg, famed film director, and producer, would choose the BBJ as his personal aircraft. With a net worth of $3.6 billion, he could easily own multiple of these private jets. However, he chooses to share ownership with fellow film producer and good friend Jeffrey Katzenberg.

While capable of offering luxurious seating for 50 people, the majority of clients opt to accommodate less. Instead, they take advantage of the space and implement board rooms, dining rooms, or master suites to get much-needed rest.

Boeing also offers a special panoramic window as an option on the BBJ MAX 8. Measuring 4.5 feet by 1.5 feet, the window allows a generous amount of natural light into the cabin, while at the same time offering beautiful views of the ground below.

 

Airbus ACJ320neo - $95 million


Courtesy of Airbus

 

Coming in at an astounding base price of $95 million, the ACJ320neo changed the game for airlines and is now making waves in the private jet industry. This private jet delivered lower operating costs and increased efficiency than previous Airbus A320 models. New engines and aerodynamically friendly sharklet wingtips aid in reducing fuel consumption and providing additional range.

Considering it has the widest and tallest cabin in the industry at 3 times the space of a large traditional jet, it only makes sense that the elite of the elite would seek out this aircraft for business use.

With private jet owners spending many hours on the aircraft, they must find time to relax during the flight. Airbus offers the Melody Cabin, focusing on providing an attractive environment that is both quieter and better adapted to providing sound and vision in a “home cinema” setting.

What truly sets the ACJ320neo apart from the commercial model is right within the name, with “Neo” being an acronym for new engine option. These new engine options include the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM and the CFM International LEAP-1A.

The ACJ320neo’s head of state, VIP interior can seat 25 passengers and 6 crew with an approximate range of 6,000nm, connecting city pairs such as London and Beijing as well as Moscow and Los Angeles.

 

These private jets were created with the elite in mind. Across the world, they represent wealth and power to socialites and business owners alike. Functioning as more than just a mode of transportation, these aircraft act as apartments, offices, entertainment spaces, and more for the wealthy. Needless to say, it’s expensive to be rich.

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